Registration Renewal in California

COVID-19 Effects on Registration Services

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state DMVs nationwide have closed office locations, extended license and registration expiration dates, and/or limited the transactions they are processing. Residents are strongly encouraged to use the DMV's online services. Follow the DMV's recent updates for the latest information.

Online

You can renew online provided you do not have any unpaid traffic tickets or delinquency fees. This will be posted on your renewal notice.

To renew online, you'll need:

  • Your license plate number. 
  • The last 5 digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Proof of car insurance on file with the DMV.
  • Proof of smog certification on file with the CA DMV.
  • Payment to cover your renewal fee (credit, debit, or ATM card, or checking account number).

DID YOU KNOW?: Proof of car insurance is REQUIRED when renewing your registration!

Compare rates and buy your policy online: Open the Insurance Center >>

By Mail

To renew by mail, you will need to provide:

  • Your registration renewal form. If your address has changed, print your new address on the form.
  • Proof of car insurance, if required.
  • Proof of smog inspection, if required.
  • Proof of payment for outstanding fees, if required.
  • Check or money order for your renewal fee, made payable to the DMV.

Mail documents and payment to:

  • Vehicle Registration Operations
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • P.O. Box 942869
  • Sacramento, CA 94269

By Phone

You can renew your CA registration over the phone provided that:

  • You have your vehicle registration renewal notice.
  • Your registration renewal notice shows the correct address.
  • You have no unpaid delinquency or ticket fees.

If both of the above are true, call the DMV at (800) 777-0133. You'll need your Renewal ID number (RIN) printed on your renewal notice. You'll also likely need to provide:

  • Your vehicle identification number (VIN), which should be listed on your renewal notice.
  • Proof of auto insurance on file with the DMV.
  • Proof of emissions certification on file with the DMV.
  • Your license plate number.
  • A credit or debit card to pay your renewal fee.

In Person

If you wish to renew your California vehicle registration in person (or your renewal notice directs you to*), visit your local DMV office with:

  • EITHER your:
    • Renewal notice.
      OR
    • Current registration certificate.
  • Your valid CA driver's license.
  • If applicable, a court clearance document showing that any delinquent fees have been paid.
  • Payment to cover your renewal fees (cash, check, money order, debit/ATM card).

*NOTE: You must renew in person if you owe any delinquency fees or unpaid traffic tickets.

*NOTE: If you haven't received your renewal documents, you can check the status of your registration by contacting the CA DMV.

Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice

The CA DMV will send you a renewal notice well in advance of your registration's expiration date. The notice will include such information as:

Looking for your registration's mailing status?

To get an update on your registration, head to our Status Check page, select "California," and choose your method of contact to get in touch with the CA DMV.

  • The date of your tag's expiration.
  • Renewal fees.
  • Vehicle information.
  • Emissions requirement.
  • Delinquency fees.
    • You must pay all delinquency or ticket fees listed on your renewal notice before renewing your registration. 
    • You will only be allowed to renew by mail or in person if you owe any extra fees.

Didn't Receive a CA Car Renewal Notice?

If you did not receive a renewal notice in the mail, either contact your local DMV office or call (800) 777-0133. To avoid missed renewal notices in the future, be sure, if you move, to update your new address with the DMV. 

NOTE: Even if you don't receive a notice, you are still obligated to register on time.

For now, if you are looking to renew your registration with an alternate mailing address, you can use a 3rd party (sponsor above) to help you with your needs.

Registration Renewal Fees

The CA DMV provides an Online Fee Calculator to help you decipher your registration renewal fees.

Fees vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • The year, weight, and value of your vehicle.
  • Special license plate fees.
  • Local county or district fees.
  • Delinquency fees, such as unpaid parking tickets, must be resolved before you can renew.

After renewing your registration, you may be eligible for a tax deduction on your vehicle license fee.

Late Fees, Penalties & Fee Refunds

The California DMV assesses fees and penalties for late renewals, as well as offers a renewal fee refund in the event that you leave the state before your renewal period.

Below you can find more on both of these provisions.

Emissions & Smog Testing

Your renewal notice will indicate if you need an emissions test.

For additional information on exemptions, testing fees, locations, and what to do if your vehicle fails the test, visit our CA Smog Test Section.

Military Registration Renewal

If your vehicle's CA registration is expiring soon and you are deployed as a member of the armed services, you may be eligible to delay payment until you return.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a member of the Armed Forces, Armed Forces Reserve, or National Guard.
  • Be temporarily deployed outside the state and engaged in combat or homeland defense purposes.
  • Not be deployed solely for training, processing, or permanent change of station purposes.
  • Be only applying to have the fees that you incurred during your time of deployment waived.

To have any late fees waived, you must:

  • Visit your local DMV office and follow the standard registration renewal procedures (see above).
  • Complete a Statement of Facts (Form REG 256), indicating your active duty status and deployment dates.

You have 60 days from the time your deployment is terminated to apply for a penalty waiver. For more information contact the CA DMV at (800) 777-0133.

It's best to schedule an appointment with the CA DMV before visiting.

Non-Operational Vehicles

If you received a renewal notice for a vehicle that you do not plan on operating (e.g. drive, park, store, or have towed) on public roads for the entire registration year, you may apply for Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status to avoid paying renewal fees.

Replacement Registration Certificates, Stickers & License Plates

If at any time your registration certificate or stickers get lost, stolen, or damaged, you need to immediately replace them.

The same is true if you need to replace lost or stolen license plates.

New to CA?

If you just moved to California and need to register your car, truck, or motorcycle, check out our California car registrations page.

Forms

REG 5090
Affidavit of Non-Use
Send this form to notify the CA DMV when you plan on cancelling a vehicle's insurance. This form does not cancel your car registration.
REG 102
Certificate of Non-Operation
Notify the DMV that you do not or will not drive or park your vehicle on public streets so that you are not charged registration fees.
REG 256
Statement of Facts
You can use this form to provide additional information for other California DMV forms OR to correct information on existing CA DMV documents.
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